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Monday, September 10, 2012

On Location for our Photography Project

We headed to a local park for our first photography project meeting of the year!

I decided to try a little different approach this year for our meetings.  I hope to have a professional from different careers come to our meetings (or we go to them as the case may be) to show their skills in their various fields.

Today that allowed us the opportunity to learn from a professional photographer who specializes in on-location photo sessions.  I thought it was a perfect opportunity to kill to bird with one stone.  We wanted to have Zaira's one month pictures taken and we needed a speaker for the meeting.  It was a great way to use our 4H project to help our family...I love it!

Our friend, Natalie, graciously offered to combine Zaira's photo session with a lesson for our group.  She did such a great job with our small group of photographers.  We had seven 4Hers and six adults (as well as a few tag-alongs) walking through the park looking for the perfect spot.  Natalie really showed us how much thought needs to go into this key part of an outdoor photo session.

Natalie started out showing us the importance of having even lighting...preferably in the shade.  She demonstrated how uneven lighting causes a subject to have an uneven exposure which could ruin a good photo.  She also talked about how it is good to look how the light shines on the subjects eyes. The most desired photos will have 'light catchers' that bring out the sparkle in a person's eyes.

Then the hunt for that photo spot began!  We carried around a basket, blankets and baby in search of a nice shady spot surrounded by trees.  Natalie explained that it is always important to ask the client what they are expecting in a session.  For our family, who loves being in the outdoors, we wanted to include this in Zaira's first month pictures.  We also brought a special blanket to have her lay on for the photos.  It is nice to have personal items in the pictures when appropriate.

Once the spot was found, Natalie explained that the background for the photo is the next area of importance.  If you have an unsightly garbage can in the background it ruins all that hard work put into finding the location.  Also, pay attention to details when setting up the photo.  For our pictures that meant looking at how the blanket was draped in the basket and smoothing out the dress.  Then we made sure Zaira's arms and legs were positioned nicely.

Natalie was so patient, allowing all the photographers to try out different angles for each location.  She explained the shots she was taking and how to position her own body to find different angles.  She showed how to zoom into the subject and focusing beyond that point for an interesting effect.  The background blurs while focusing on the main subject.  She also showed how to take the baby feet photo that I have never figured out.

Once we had moved from one spot to another, moving with the sun to find more shade, we switched to the family shots.  What skill (and patience) was needed to get us all together looking at the camera and smiling!  We learned that the most important part of a group shot was to not have space between the subjects.  This proved to be a tricky feat for our family of energetic (and sometimes uncooperative) boys!  Natalie talked about this with the group and gave pointers on how to make it work.

By the way, Zaira slept through the entire session!  The 4Hers began to depart and we even had our boys in the car. We thought we were done but Natalie noticed a second outfit I had brought along with us.  She eagerly waited as we got Zaira changed.  She found another location and as I placed her in the right position for these shots, she opened her eyes and joyfully smiled and cooed for the camera.  It was a perfect end to the photo session.  I wish the others could have seen this part of the session but I suppose Zaira would have been a little overwhelmed if they had stayed.

I cannot wait to see all the photos from Natalie and our 4H photographers!  I hope they enjoyed the experience as much as we did!  Hoping they will take what we learned and follow up with their homework to discover their own subject and on-location site.  As always, I look forward to seeing their creativity!

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